Sustainable placemaking – what is it and why does it matter?

Live Well
Have you ever wondered how a community is designed? From footpaths to parks, sustainable placemaking helps us to design communities that will ultimately become a natural extension of your home.

Lendlease Communities’ State Urban Design Manager for Queensland, Sue Dewar, outlines what sustainable placemaking is and how it creates healthy, happy and safer communities.

What is sustainable placemaking?

Let’s first unpack placemaking. Placemaking is the planning, designing and management of public spaces. Unlike street planning, these spaces are created with an intention to improve the lives of those who use them. To be sustainable, these areas must operate harmoniously with the environment in mind, so the spaces can be enjoyed both now and into the future. 

What makes a place sustainable?

It takes more than just planting a few trees or making a vegie patch for a place to be sustainable. It all starts at the design process. Lendlease’s State Urban Design Manager for Queensland Sue Dewar says sustainable placemaking is about balancing the environmental needs with the needs and lifestyles of the community’s residents in mind. 

“The aim is to create diverse communities that consider the environment, a strong economy, and good quality of life for all residents,” Sue said.  

Why does sustainable placemaking matter?

As it turns out, sustainable placemaking is huge for making society a better place, Sue says. Sustainable placemaking is important, not just for the environment, but also for the people living in these communities. 

“We strive to continually do better by facilitating meaningful community engagement and encouraging people to work together to create healthy communities where natural and historic resources are preserved, jobs are available and education is lifelong,” Sue said.

“It’s important we provide housing choices, transportation options, ensure health care is accessible, and all residents have opportunities to improve the quality of their lives.” 

How does Lendlease help?

Sustainable placemaking starts at the urban design phase and with qualified urban designers, like Sue, Lendlease is able to create entire communities that support connection and promote health and well-being. 

“My role is to see that each project is contextually relevant and that its unique vision is expressed in all the elements that make up the community,” Sue said.

“From the arrival experience, the tree-lined streets with highly connected hike and bike trails, memorable parks, a wide range of lot sizes and housing choices, access to shops, education and employment, understanding how people want to and can afford to live is key.” 

Sue says when it comes to designing Lendlease communities, it’s all about looking at the current and previous environment and then modifying these changes to help future-proof the community. 

“Urban design is never static and it’s informed by the past and the present, but also allows for future changes. We now see a great deal of change bought about by economic factors, climate change, technology, flexible work arrangements, family structures, a respect for the Traditional Owners and for new Australians. Responding to these changes is key.”

Will we see more masterplanned communities in the future?

Looking through the crystal ball into the future, it looks like masterplanned communities will continue to be important. Sue says in recent times, current trends have favoured masterplanned communities and this is expected to continue, thanks to technology and changes in working arrangements. 

“The trend for flexible working and work from home has meant that people no longer have to live close to their place of employment and instead supports people working from home, or the local park,” Sue said.

“The use of E scooters and E bikes and in the future, driverless cars has/will mean that children, teenagers and adults can easily access amenities without public transport or a driver’s licence (noting that public transport is always given priority). Also, a connected hike and bike/scooter network will support health and E mobility.” 

Sue also says there is also more peace of mind when it comes to a masterplanned community.

“There is peace of mind in knowing that the community has met all the statutory requirements including environmental, traffic, hydraulic, the amount of open space, the number of schools, shops, services, etc,” Sue said. 

“Our covenant and design guidelines ensure that all homes present well to the street, supporting visual amenity and in turn valuations.” 

Lendlease’s masterplanned communities combine personal living with community connection through walkable, accessible neighbourhoods. From shared spaces to natural surrounds, parks, and easy public transport links, Lendlease create places where people can thrive, strive and belong.

About Sue Dewar:

Sue Dewar studied Urban Design at the Queensland Institute of Technology and is currently the State Urban Design Manager for Lendlease Communities, responsible for five Queensland projects.

Originally a Landscape Architect, Sue had a love for plants and gardens but felt constrained. Wanting to ensure people could live a full and prosperous life, she made the switch to Urban Design and has been a Design and Planning Manager at Lendlease for more than 18 years. 

Sue grew up on a farm in western Queensland, where the climate and distance had a tremendous impact on her early life and career choice.